Hidden Beauty

 

I think I told you that we’re working on a trail from our home to the creek below us. I’ve found that my job, has been to tidy the forest around the trail. Doesn’t that sound odd?  Why would you tidy a forest? For years, the forest and those in the home have tossed branches down the hillside. I did it myself last year when a windstorm blew branches all around the decks. I just tossed them over edge into the forest below us. That’s just fine, till someone gets the idea to make a trail down the hillside to the creek! Suddenly all those branches become visible and many need to be moved to clear space for the trail.

As I began to clear the branches, I realized that not only the narrow trail needed to be cleared, but I wanted the space around the trail to be open too. That’s when I began to tidy the forest. Others are working away sawing trees, digging out rocks, grading a path and building steps. I’m climbing over rocks tossing branches over the cliff-side. I started at the top area just below the house and have been making my way towards the creek.

The first few areas near the house were amazing. Simply removing the loose branches revealed a delightful forest garden right by our home. As I made my way down the hillside I found more treasures; a huge stump with ivy tumbling over it, a massive rock partly covered in moss, two more huge rocks with tree stumps tucked between them and a moss covered hillside that was flecked with starburst flowers. As the mess of odd branches was removed the beauty of the forest began to shine through. Next trail making day I’ll get out my clippers and tidy up the ferns. Underneath all that clutter there was and is a beautiful forest garden.

Isn’t that an image of life? What’s underneath the clutter of our activities, underneath the knot of old tapes in our minds, underneath the weight of ambitions and pressures? I know there is a beautiful forest garden within each of us. Too often our beauty is covered by a lot of clutter that we’ve accumulated or let others dump on us. But we are beautiful. Each person around you is beautiful. Can you see your own beauty? Can you see the beauty in the one beside you? What is the clutter that can be removed so you can behold the beauty within yourself and the one nearest you? God is always present, ready to help de-clutter.

May you use these days well.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

Holy Creek!

 

Just below our home is a creek. We live on a mountainside, so there is a steep hill of about a hundred yards down to the creek. But we can hear it! The snow is melting and it’s raining today so the creek is full and flowing well. I love standing near a creek, a brook or a river and watching it tumble over rocks. I love the movement. I’m told there is something healthy for us, something we humans breath into our physical nature through the flow of water. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know much about that, but I do know that I feel satisfied and refreshed when I pause near flowing water.

This week one of my readings reminded me of the continuous presence of God that flows through me. There is a constant flow of light, love, peace, joy, of all the nature of our omnipresent Creator. All of that is flowing through me. That feels so good to me. As I moved through my daily activities this week, I’ve been pausing to recall God’s flow through me. Just as my creek keeps flowing, so our Creator’s Nature of peace, joy, forgiveness keeps flowing through me. And you. As I slow down and recall that, I consciously open myself to that flow. Oh, that feels so good. And then I imagine the flow coming through you too. That feels good too.

I’m so grateful to live beside a creek. I’m so grateful for the flow of God’s Creek within me and within you. Come Holy Creek, flow freely today.

 

 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Dare I Say It?

Dare I say it? I’m enjoying staying at home. I know it is a time of suffering and sadness. On many levels people are in pain, physically, emotionally, economically. So much has been turned upside down.  I do know that. And I know I’m not a single working mom who is having to look after her children and pay the bills. For many it’s a hugely painful time. Yet…

I’m also relieved to have the world slow down. I love stepping out on my porch at 7.00pm when our village starts it’s ‘Noisy Thank You’. One neighbour who can’t play the trumpet leads the way with a blast on his horn. Then all around the village you can hear the clamor. We’ve all been tucked away in our homes and come together for those few minutes of shared noise. Yes, we’re all still here and we all still care.

It seems to me that normally the world is too busy. I’ve known times in my life when my overwork took me to a place of overwhelm and exhaustion. I had to pull away from life and recoup. Are we experiencing a global nervous breakdown from our obsessive overworking/over achieving/over accumulating life style?

I like staying home. I’ve enjoyed finding my new rhythm. It’s still based in prayer/study/action. It just looks a little different. I’m not sure I want to give it up and return to all the driving and groups I normally attend. I like a quiet life.

I found this quote from Rumi: Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.

A time of enforced quiet gives me time to ponder. What do I really want in my life? What do I, at this particular season, really need? And to listen deeply. It may feel strange.

Our shared experience of social distancing is really an Easter experience. We’re all being given the opportunity to die and then to rise again. We’re letting go of our jobs, securities, even our dreams. We’ve let go of old ways of behaving, old routines. Now we have a chance to begin something new, to allow new life to mature within us. What will we look like when we emerge from the experience of our current separation? What is silently drawing us from deep within our hearts?

I hope you’re able to find some goodness in these days, some kindness, some gratitude and carry some hope for what will emerge.  If you are one of the ones who is suffering during this time, I hope you can find someone to support you as you accept what is happening and make the changes that are right for you.

May you know the new life of Easter.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Early Lessons from the Virus Time

 

Does it feel to you like we’ve been invaded by an alien being from outer space? Our world has been shaken upside down in the last few weeks as the coronavirus, it’s containment and fear has spread around the globe. I know there are always lessons to be learnt from life, so I’ve begun to consider the lessons from this invasion. It’s still early days so I’m sure lessons will evolve, but here are a few I’m considering.

Humility – I hope we, all the people on our planet, will be open to learning this lesson. We are not in control. We watch it strike the rich and the poor. We are a vulnerable species. Let’s live more simply, humbly.

Resilient and Resourceful – We are resourceful. We can be flexible and respond to a challenge. We can discover what is needed and will find a medical aid to help us. It is one of our wonders that we can be both humble and resilient. We can hold both at the same time. We need not be black and white thinkers, who strut in our problem-solving ability but can be embracive, healthy people who know our place within the cosmos.

Togetherness – This is a piece I really hope we learn. Yes, we can use borders for containment, but we can also work together as a global family. We can pull our best scientific minds together for a medical solution. We can let the medical community and the organizers of the world tell us how to contain the spread by managing our movement and lifestyle. We can learn that all of us have responsibility for all us. We’re in this thing called ‘life’, together.

Vulnerability – The clear recognition that so many of us live without financial margins. For those of us who live with margin, can we imagine what these days feel like when your job disappears, and you still need to feed your children?  Is it time we re-organize our financial structures and move to a guaranteed income?

Earth has a voice – As we hear of polluted skies and water beginning to clear, it’s as if the earth herself has gifted us with time so we might learn how our consumer-oriented, selfish ways have damaged earth. Will we listen to our planet? How will we live going forward?

A slower and simpler life is possible – We are being forced into a slower pace of life. So many of us resist slowness. I hope we will learn to accept it and use it well; more time for reflection, for self-awareness, more time for a small circle of people close to us, more time to be attentive to where we can wisely be helpful. When the restrictions lift, will we have wisdom about what we let back into our lives?

I’m struck about who we hear from each day. Daily we hear from political, scientific and medical leaders. More recently, there is a presence for mental health practitioners. Yet there is no strong and clear spiritual voice. Because of the mailing lists I’m on I have lots of meditative tools and perspectives offered to me but for the general public, when do they get a spiritual perspective on this crisis? How our world has changed and silenced the voice of the Spirit. When will we acknowledge that each person has not only a body and a mind, but also a spirit.  When will we listen to our spiritual teachers and their perspective on how to respond?

So those are a few of the things I’m wondering about. How about you? What are the lessons you’re wondering about?

Stay home, be kind to yourself and others, be well

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

 

 

 

In Unprecedented Times

 

There are always lessons to be learnt in life. I had begun to reflect on lessons from our shared virus experience, but I decided this morning to save those for another time. I found a poem that I would rather share with you. It’s by John O’Donoghue from ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

              This is the time to be slow,

              Lie low to the wall

              Until the bitter weather passes.

              Try, as best you can, not to let

              The wire brush of doubt

              Scrape from your heart

              All sense of yourself

              And your hesitant light.

              If you remain generous,

              Time will come good;

              And you will find your feet

              Again on fresh pastures of promise,

              Where the air will be kind

              And blushed with beginning.

Let us continue to cultivate faith, compassion and generosity within ourselves and towards each other as we move through these unprecedented times.

We’re all in this together. We are not alone. His eye is on the sparrow. How will we respond?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is helpful to you, please share with others to broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

HELP! Finding Life within the Coronavirus Slow Down

 

Have you been required, or asked to self-isolate? Have your activities or work been curtailed? In some way all of us have been affected by the virus and its containment. We are all being required to live at least temporarily, a slower life.

For years I have helped people slow down, listen to the loving voice of God and then live out of what they hear. I have found that some people instinctively respond to the slowing down, but many, even most people, find it incredibly difficult. I am concerned for the mental health of our communities as the time of self-isolation deepens. I’m encouraged to see that mental health professionals are beginning to speak out about it. We are social creatures and need each other. It wonderful to see the concerts, exercise classes, talks etc. being offered on the internet.

I offer you today some aids to help you get through a slower and possibly anxious, period in your life. Give your slower days an intention and purpose. Some love a free-flowing day – let that happen. Others prefer to work within a schedule, so create one! I work with a combination. I have a schedule of activities I will probably do, but I allow them to flow. Perhaps you can schedule a time for meditation, a time for written reflection and a time for walking, even a walking meditation outdoors. I think it is a wonderful time to pray the Loving-Kindness meditation.  Here are four links to prayer practices:

Centering Prayer: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-1

Holy Reading – Lectio Divina : https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/lectio-divina

Loving Kindness Meditation: https://jackkornfield.com/meditation-on-lovingkindness/

Walking Meditation: https://www.tarabrach.com/walking-meditation-instructions-pdf-from-tara-2/

Please look after yourself during this time of necessary slowness. May it become a rich time of learning for all of us as a human community.  I treasure the quote from Gibran’s The Prophet, “Pillars of the temple stand together and apart”. 

How are you adjusting? What are you learning?

Love and Prayers continue…

Anne

If this is helpful, please pass it along to friends so we can broaden the contemplative pathway. 

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Self-isolation or Solitude?

Sometimes it’s simply time to get away. About a month ago as I was struggling with writing a book about my spiritual memoirs, I knew I had to get away. I knew it was time to be quiet and listen deeply to God’s Spirit within me. I had to do some deep listening before I could do any writing. The Rubik’s cube within my soul twisted into shape that day. It felt SO right. I booked a week away at Rivendell’s Hermitage. Maybe I’d have a few days of listening and then write, or maybe I’d simply have a few days of listening, of being open to God and in God’s Presence. Either way, I knew I needed solitude.

I leave in five days. I am so happy to be going. As I leave, the world around me is twisting in a strange tornado tumult of COVID19. Each day new directions come out. New information. New travel restrictions. New gathering restrictions. I’m content to pack my bags and disappear into solitude. They now call is self-isolation. I call it solitude and I welcome it. I’ll use this time to go more slowly and hopefully listen deeply and experience God’s presence in a soul-formative way.

A part of me is concerned about so many people entering self-isolation without knowing how to do it. We’re created to be social creatures and to separate ourselves can cause inner turmoil. I wonder how we will respond to so much solitude, especially untended solitude. Not only am I an introvert, I have spent, over the years, many weeks in solitude and know how to care for myself as I open to God’s Spirit. Sometimes it’s very challenging to be alone, while other times it is full and nourishing.

Will you be called into self-isolation in the next few months? Will you see it as ‘isolation’ or as ‘solitude’? I think those are two very different approaches. If you are required to separate yourself from loved ones for two weeks or more, I hope you can find within it time for reading, reflection, prayer and meditation. Perhaps, rather than fighting the separation, it could be an opportunity to deepen your life, so when you emerge, there will be more of you that will emerge.

Isolation or solitude? Two very different words for very different experiences.

Choices. So many choices in life. What path will you walk?

Love and prayers

Anne

If you find this helpful, please share with a friend so we can broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Surrender

Today ‘surrender’ is my word. It’s my second day at Rivendell leading the group meditation. This time it was Richard Wagamese writing about surrendering the outcome of an event to the Creator. The word opened within me a gentle release. Ah yes, I don’t need to concern myself with outcome, or expectations, or productivity or success. I’m invited to be open to My Creator, to invite her to move within and through me, to unfold her ways in my life. The Way of Love.

“When my energy is low, meaning I don’t feel at my best in terms of creativity, inspiration, attunement or rest, I let Creator have my flow and ask only to be a channel. My deepest audience connection has always happened when I do this. So, on my way to a podium nowadays, I say to myself, “Okay, Creator, you and me, one more time.” When I surrender the delivery, along with the outcome, the anxiety and expectation, everything becomes miraculous. It’s a recipe for life, really.” Embers pg67

‘Surrender’ used to be a scary word to me. I have come to recognize that what I felt in those days was my controlling ego not wanting to let go of what it knew, what was its protection and projection. Today when I hear the word my heart warms. Oh yes. Remind me again and again to surrender to God. It is You and me together Precious One. You lead. I follow. I trust wherever You want to take me and whatever You want to give to me and to others through me. This life is Your show, Your pathway. We walk it together, but I want it to be about You, You and me, not about ME. My life is more embedded in you than it used to be, more entangled with the delight of You.

Thank you Richard for reminding me one more time to surrender, to live as Creator and me dancing together. I need to be reminded. Often. Do you?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

How to Handle Distractions: The Squeaky Shoes!

The community had gathered. We had heard a sacred reading. The bell was struck. A gentle silence descended on us. Then, on the other side of the wall, in the parking lot a frustrated mother began yelling at her child, “I didn’t drive all this way for you to refuse to go to camp!’. The yelling continued, accompanied by a child’s mournful cry.  Beneath our feet the piano began, joined by happy voices of children singing camp songs. One after another their songs rolled along. The final straw were The Squeaky Shoes, rubber soles on linoleum, that sauntered down the hall outside the chapel. Really! So what was that sacred text???

That particular morning highlighted for me the delight of meditation. We (or is it just me!) have this image of sitting in stillness, all is serene. Maybe a few birds chirp or a gentle waterfall is a soothing white noise. Within a pristine setting perhaps I will settle into a place of inner peace.

But usually as soon as I settle on my cushion, I’m aware of the flopping of my mind, or emotions that get triggered. Again and again, as Fr Keating taught, I get hooked by some ‘boat’ that has entered the river of my thoughts and I’m engaged in sorting out all the stuff on the boat. Whether my physical space is serene or not, my internal space seldom is very orderly.

That morning, with all the yelling, singing and squeaking, gave me time to reflect again on how to deal with distractions when I meditate. They will happen! It might be internal thoughts that engage me or the squeaky shoes outside the room. I know they will come, so how can I let them not trigger an annoyance or sense of failure, but become one of the delights of meditation?

I know as my practice deepens the external sounds move more easily into something ‘out there’ and cease to trigger the cords of annoyance within me. They can still cause me to feel disruption. I look for the day when I’m oblivious to them. I’m not there yet. I’m not able to walk on hot coals! But I can breathe and let them pass. The internal roommate that chatters is more of a distraction to me. But the good part is that I can recognize when I’ve climbed on board and jump overboard one more time.

The real delight of distractions in meditation for me is the growing awareness that those distractions help me bring the quiet centre of my practice into everyday life. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store or caught in traffic I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then, right there because I’ve done it in my practice when The Squeaky Shoes walked down the hall. Or when someone gets annoyed at me or I feel irritated towards someone, or jealous of who they are, I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then because that’s what I’ve done in my meditation practice when The Squeaky Shoes were the last straw for me. Again, and again, pause, breathe and return my focus to God’s Spirit within me. I am a branch of God’s vine. I carry God’s Life-giving, Ever-Loving, Healing Sap within me. I belong to God. That is who I am.

Distractions! How do you deal with them in life and /or on the cushion???

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

Breathing Underwater

 

One night in my dreams I found myself swimming in beautiful clear water. It felt wonderful! I realized that I was breathing under water. I wasn’t snorkeling or scuba diving. I had no equipment, just Anne, swimming and breathing in sparkling clear water.

Now all of you who love dream work will have some fun with that dream! I dabble in those explorations too and have had some deeply rewarding insights from dreams, including that one. But today…. Today I want to share with you a special moment from my waking life that reminded me of that dream sensation.

My granddaughter asked me if I’d join her scuba diving. We were on a family holiday at a resort that was offering a free scuba session. She loves the water and wanted to give it a try, but wanted company. Fifteen years ago I took the Padi Open Water Dive Training program and became certified. I let it lapse because I had such awful experiences. I’m a strong swimmer and very comfortable in the water but found myself unable to relax with the scuba gear on. As I looked at the surface of the water far, far above me I felt claustrophobic. I thought I would go home in a mahogany box. One time I thought I was going to vomit! I decided no more diving. But then, a granddaughter asks and of course I’m in.

We dove that afternoon and then, both of us so excited from our experience, signed up to do a longer training the next day. I think two things made the difference; a very competent, enjoyable teacher and how my meditation practice has matured over the last fifteen years.

Our teacher was wonderful. He was warm, engaging, clear, and encouraging. He delighted in my granddaughter and me, so glad to be teaching us to dive. He was one of those people that draws out the best in me.  After we had the gear on and were breathing under water with the regulator he asked us to sit on the bottom of the pool, simply rest there. The last time I tried to do it I couldn’t rest. This time I could feel I was at ease.

The sensation of resting in the water, either sitting on the bottom, or simply floating while deeply submerged, felt just like those moments in meditation when I’m held. Those moments when thoughts cease and the still point that is the ground of my being is all that there is within me. it is a place of deep rest and ease. As I floated in the water, recalling the mediation experience I could breath in the LOVE that sustains me. The dive became an experience of being held in LOVE, in LIFE.

Do you meditate? I think everyone can benefit from learning how to meditate. There are so many different pathways. I follow a Christian path and have learnt a variety of Christian meditation practices. I’ve also learnt secular, Buddhist and yogi meditation practices. There is scientific research now regarding the physical and mental benefits of meditation. There is a meditative practice that would suit you! It is a practice. It calls for persistence when it’s difficult. but oh, it’s worth it.

There is nothing quite like breathing underwater.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)